Saturday, July 7, 2018

How Quitting Smoking Improves Your Health


 Brain

Broken Addiction Cycle

Quitting smoking can re-wire your brain and help break the cycle of addiction. The large number of nicotine receptors in your brain will return to normal levels after about a month of being quit.

Head and Face

Sharp Hearing

Quitting smoking will keep your hearing sharp. Remember, even mild hearing loss can cause problems (like not hearing directions correctly and doing a task wrong).

Better Vision

Quitting smoking will improve your night vision and help preserve your overall vision by stopping the damage that smoking does to your eyes.

Clean Mouth

Nobody likes a dirty mouth. After a few days without cigarettes, your smile will be brighter. Quitting smoking now will keep your mouth healthy for years to come.

Clear Skin

Quitting smoking is better than anti-aging lotion. Quitting can help clear up blemishes and protect your skin from premature aging and wrinkling.

Heart

Decreased Heart Risks

Smoking is the leading cause of heart attacks and heart disease. But many of these heart risks can be reversed simply by quitting smoking. Quitting can lower your blood pressure and heart rate almost immediately. Your risk of a heart attack declines within 24 hours.

Thin Blood

When you quit smoking, your blood will become thinner and less likely to form dangerous blood clots. Your heart will also have less work to do, because it will be able to move the blood around your body more easily.

Lower Cholesterol

Quitting smoking will not get rid of the fatty deposits that are already there. But it will lower the levels of cholesterol and fats circulating in your blood, which will help to slow the buildup of new fatty deposits in your arteries.

Lungs

Stop Lung Damage

Scarring of the lungs is not reversible. That is why it is important to quit smoking before you do permanent damage to your lungs. Within two weeks of quitting, you might notice it’s easier to walk up the stairs because you may be less short of breath. Don’t wait until later; quit today!

Prevent Emphysema

There is no cure for emphysema. But quitting when you are young, before you have done years of damage to the delicate air sacs in your lungs, will help protect you from developing emphysema later.

Return of Cilia

Cilia (The fine hairlike projections from certain cells such as those in the respiratory tract that sweep in unison and help to sweep away fluids and particles) start to regrow and regain normal function very quickly after you quit smoking. They are one of the first things in your body to heal. People sometimes notice that they cough more than usual when they first quit smoking. This is a sign that the cilia are coming back to life. But you’re more likely to fight off colds and infections when you’re cilia are working properly.

DNA

Lower Cancer Risk

Quitting smoking will prevent new DNA damage from happening and can even help repair the damage that has already been done. Quitting smoking immediately is the best way to lower your risk of getting cancer.

Stomach and Hormones

Smaller Belly

Quitting smoking will reduce your belly fat and lower your risk of diabetes. If you already have diabetes, quitting can help you keep your blood sugar levels in check.

Normal Estrogen Levels

If you’re a woman, your estrogen levels will gradually return to normal after you quit smoking. And if you hope to have children someday, quitting smoking right now will increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy in the future.

Erectile Dysfunction

Sexual Healing

If you quit smoking now, you can lower your chances of erectile dysfunction and improve your chances of having a healthy sexual life.
"The nicotine was making me dead, inside and out. Now I feel free, vibrant, energetic, focused, and so alive!"
-Smokefree Arwen

Blood and the Immune System

Normal White Blood Cell Count

When you quit smoking, your body will begin to heal from the injuries that smoking caused. Eventually, your white blood cell counts will return to normal and will no longer be on the defensive.

Proper Healing

Quitting smoking will improve blood flow to wounds, allowing important nutrients, minerals, and oxygen to reach the wound and help it heal properly.

Stronger Immune System

When you quit smoking, your immune system is no longer exposed to tar and nicotine. It will become stronger, and you will be less likely to get sick.

Muscles and Bones

Strong Muscles

Quitting smoking will help increase the availability of oxygen in your blood, and your muscles will become stronger and healthier.

Stronger Bones

Quitting smoking can reduce your risk of fractures, both now and later in life. Keep your bones strong and healthy by quitting now.

SmokeFree.gov

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Expanding buprenorphine treatment could curb opioid overdoses

Expanding primary care buprenorphine treatment could curb opioid overdose crisis7
Brain basics in jargon-free language.

Expanding the availability of medication treatment for opioid use disorder in primary care settings would be a major step toward reducing overdose deaths, write two physicians specializing in addiction medicine and health care delivery in the July 5 issue of New England Journal of Medicine. In their Perspectives article entitled "Primary Care and the Opioid-Overdose Crisis - Buprenorphine Myths and Realities," Sarah Wakeman, MD, medical director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Substance Use Disorders Initiative and Michael Barnett, MD, of the Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, describe current barriers to expanded delivery of buprenorphine treatment and outline possible solutions.

"One of the tragic ironies is that with well-established medical treatment, opioid use disorder can have an excellent prognosis," they write, noting that almost 80 percent of Americans with opioid use disorder are unable to receive treatment and that the growth in distribution of buprenorphine - one of three FDA-approved medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder - has been slowing rather than increasing in recent years. "To have any hope of stemming the overdose tide, we have to make it easier to obtain buprenorphine than to get heroin and fentanyl."

The authors describe 5 persistent but inaccurate myths that they believe prevent buprenorphine from being more widely adopted:

O That is more dangerous that other common health care interventions,
O That buprenorphine treatment is just replacing one addition for another,
O That abstinence-based treatment - short-term detoxification and rehabilitation - is more effective than medication-based treatment,
O That providing buprenorphine treatment is particularly onerous and time consuming for primary care physicians (PCPs),
O That physicians should just reduce opioid prescriptions to address the overdose epidemic

Most outpatient buprenorphine treatment is already provided by PCPs, and expanding the availability of office-based buprenorphine treatment, as several other countries have done, presents a realistic solution to addressing the overdose crisis, the authors note. They write, "We are in the midst of a historic public health crisis that demands action from every physician. Without dramatic intervention, life expectancy in the United States will continue to decline. Mobilizing the PCP workforce to offer office-based buprenorphine treatment is a plausible, practical, and scalable intervention that could be implemented immediately."


###

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. EurekAlert

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Autism and homelessness




The researchers* found evidence suggesting that autistic adults are over-represented among the homeless population. They have called for more research to understand the links between autism and homelessness, to help prevent autistic people becoming homeless and to improve support for those who are already homeless.
Existing research & method
Anecdotal reports from autism clinicians and keyworkers, as well as two small studies from a few years ago, have suggested that there may be high numbers of autistic people in the homeless population. But this is the first academic research looking at this issue properly.
The researchers attempted to fill this gap by gathering initial evidence about the prevalence of autistic traits in homeless people. They worked with one homeless outreach team is the UK and screened 106 people they support to see if they could be autistic.
Results & discussion
12.3% of homeless people had a range of autistic 'traits' in line with diagnostic criteria. This is substantially higher than the general population autism prevalence of 1%. It is not clear that this 12% were actually autistic, but the screening suggested that they could be.
Writing in the journal, Autism, the researchers said: "If autistic difficulties are common among homeless populations, then this has important implications. Many people are homeless in the United Kingdom; the most recent estimate is that there are almost 5000 rough sleepers at any one point (Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, 2017), and there is a much larger group of people with no stable accommodation who are termed the 'hidden homeless' (Crisis, 2017). There may therefore be a considerable number of homeless autistic adults who are not having their needs met and who are in an extremely vulnerable position."

Learn about the brain in clear language.

Alasdair Churchard has a doctorate in Clinical Psychology from University College London and worked on this study alongside Morag Ryder, William Mandy and Andrew Greenhill. He said: "Our research shows that autistic people may be at higher risk of becoming homeless than the general population.
"It is well-known that life for homeless people is extremely mentally and physically hard, and those who are autistic are likely to have additional vulnerabilities which would only make their lives more difficult.
"Further research is required in this area, and we have been working with professionals in the homelessness field to raise awareness about the potential links between autism and homelessness."
Sarah Lambert, Head of Policy at the National Autistic Society, said: "This is an important and robust study, which suggests that there could be a significant number of autistic adults who are homeless - and potentially living without an understanding of their needs or appropriate support.
"It's well established that many autistic people struggle to get the support they need and face huge difficulties throughout their lives, including high rates of mental health problems, underemployment and social isolation. We've heard anecdotal reports of autistic adults falling through gaps in support and into homelessness but there's very little research into this or awareness of this as an issue.
"This is the first peer-reviewed study to provide initial evidence of a link between autism and homelessness and provides an important platform to get to grips with this issue. We now need further research to investigate this link, and to develop the right support for homeless autistic people and to prevent those at risk from falling into homelessness in the first place."
"Homeless autistic people have gone unrecognised and unsupported for far too long."
Case study
Dr. Andrew Greenhill, a clinical psychologist also involved in the research, said: "One person that stands out for me is an older man who had lived on the street for 45 years, in an inner city.
"He ran away from his family home because his relationship with his father was so poor and physically abusive. He then survived by following a regular routine and sleeping in the same place every night, relying on the food made available at day-centres and drop ins. He refused all professional help or contact, and existed in a 'bubble' whereby he refused all attempts to engage. It was clear that he found social engagement of any kind very distressing and was highly motivated to avoid this.
"Eventually he was admitted to hospital after it appeared he'd had a stroke, and was unable to care for himself. He eventually accepted a room in a low intensity 'cottage hotel' hostel, where there were few, if any expectations about things like form filling, attending meetings or assessments. He has since managed to maintain his preference for privacy and solitude whilst having his basic needs met, with support workers around to keep an eye on him and to help out if any difficulties arise."
###
Read an article about the research on the Conversation website and access the full research paper in the Autism Journal.
*The research was carried out by Alasdair Churchard, alongside Morag Ryder and William Mandy from University College London and Andrew Greenhill from Kensington & Chelsea Learning Disability Service.
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Food, brain health and Alzheimer's

Learn more HERE.



Imagine for a moment that you surmount life's outrageous fortunes and you go over the hurdles, and then you face toward the end of your life the reward for your appropriate and successful aging, the loss of your most human qualities--your ability to reason, make decisions, remember.


That is the fate that my Aunt Barbara faced and a percentage of Americans must deal with. That is, a large fraction of us, if we don't find solutions, ultimately will will suffer the syndrome called Alzheimer's disease.

If you live to 85, you have a 50 per cent chance of getting Alzheimer's.

With the enormous increase in people achieving the age of 65, we cannot allow this disease to become the scourge it already is. Alzheimer's will be much more prevalent in the future by the ironic fact that medical science is helping us live longer.

Now, it is the case that not everyone will suffer this tragic disorder. Currently, experts say that if you live to 85, you will have a 50 per cent chance of getting Alzheimer's.

Researchers and doctors are focused now on making Alzheimer's a treatable condition since indications are that the disease can begin up to 20 years before symptoms such as memory loss manifest themselves.

For example, some scientists believe that a simple test, an exam of the retina (considered part of the brain) by a eye examination, can show early build up of the plaques and tangles that are the hallmark of the disease.

The model of Alzheimer's treatment would be a disease such as diabetes, in which symptoms can be detected and treated with diet, exercise and medications. We treat but don't cure diabetes.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Childhood brain trauma lasts a lifetime

From Healing the Brain, by David Balog

How trauma affects the developing brain.

Traumatized Children and Youth in Romania--A Tragedy of Epic Proportions
Beginning in the 1960s, the country of Romania's harsh economic policies meant that most families were too poor to support multiple children. So, without other options, thousands of parents left their babies in government-run orphanages.

By Christmas day 1989, when revolutionaries overthrew the government, an estimated 170,000 children were living in more than 700 state orphanages. As the regime crumbled, journalists and humanitarians swept in. In most institutions, children were getting adequate food, hygiene and medical care, but had woefully few interactions with adults, leading to severe behavioral and emotional problems.

Unlike growing up in a family, the children didn't have lots of interactions with adults holding them, talking to them, singing or playing with them, and that lack of stimulation affected their brain development.

An American scientist who went to study the crisis, recalls "a boy in a red T-shirt and sweats skipped up to me, grabbed my hand, and wouldn’t let go. His head didn’t reach my shoulders, so I figured he was eight or nine years old. He was 13, my guide said. The boy kept looking up at me with an open, sweet face, but I found it difficult to return his gaze.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

What child trauma does to the brain


What does PTSD look like in infants and children?

Animal models have taught us that stressing the mother in pregnancy can alter brain development in the offspring; and that prolonged separation of infant from mother impairs in the newborn other aspects of brain development and function. Furthermore, inconsistent maternal care and maternal anxiety, for example, from food insecurity, produce anxiety in offspring and contribute to the predisposition to diabetes, which itself has adverse effects on the brain.
Learn about the brain in clear language.
....Studies on children growing up in adversity have added to the information gained from animal research. Chaos in the home and inconsistent parenting impairs development of self regulatory behaviors, which can lead to substance abuse, earlier onset of sexual activity, bad decision making, and poor mood control.

School-aged children (ages 5-12)
These children may not have flashbacks or problems remembering parts of the trauma, the way adults with PTSD often do. Children, though, might put the events of the trauma in the wrong order. They might also think there were signs that the trauma was going to happen. As a result, they think that they will see these signs again before another trauma happens. They think that if they pay attention, they can avoid future traumas.

Children of this age might also show signs of PTSD in their play. They might keep repeating a part of the trauma. These games do not make their worry and distress go away. For example, a child might always want to play shooting games after he sees a school shooting. Children may also fit parts of the trauma into their daily lives. For example, a child might carry a gun to school after seeing a school shooting.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Stroke essentials. Save a life--yours.

May ends and so does Stroke Awareness Month. Get these basics from our book, and learn more about this leading killer of Americans.

Order your copy today!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Suicide in America: Know the Signs

Suicide in America: Frequently Asked Questions.

Suicide is a major public health problem and a leading cause of death in the United States. The effects of suicide go beyond the person who acts to take his or her life: it can have a lasting effect on family, friends, and communities. 

Learn about the brain in health and illness. Click here.

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), can help you, a friend, or a family member learn about the signs and symptoms, risk factors and warning signs, and ongoing research about suicide and suicide prevention.

If You Know Someone in Crisis: Call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) at 1–800–273–TALK (8255), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to everyone. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1–800–799–4889. All calls are confidential. Contact social media outlets directly if you are concerned about a friend’s social media updates or dial 911 in an emergency. Learn more on the NSPL’s website. The Crisis Text Line is another resource available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Text “HOME” to 741741.


What Is Suicide?
Suicide is when people direct violence at themselves with the intent to end their lives, and they die because of their actions. It’s best to avoid the use of terms like “committing suicide” or a “successful suicide” when referring to a death by suicide as these terms often carry negative connotations.
suicide attempt is when people harm themselves with the intent to end their lives, but they do not die because of their actions.

Who Is at Risk for Suicide?

Suicide does not discriminate. People of all genders, ages, and ethnicities can be at risk.
The main risk factors for suicide are:
  • A prior suicide attempt
  • Depression and other mental health disorders
  • Substance abuse disorder
  • Family history of a mental health or substance abuse disorder
  • Family history of suicide
  • Family violence, including physical or sexual abuse
  • Having guns or other firearms in the home
  • Being in prison or jail
  • Being exposed to others’ suicidal behavior, such as a family member, peer, or media figure
  • Medical illness
  • Being between the ages of 15 and 24 years or over age 60 
Even among people who have risk factors for suicide, most do not attempt suicide. It remains difficult to predict who will act on suicidal thoughts.

Are certain groups of people at higher risk than others?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men are more likely to die by suicide than women, but women are more likely to attempt suicide. Men are more likely to use more lethal methods, such as firearms or suffocation. Women are more likely than men to attempt suicide by poisoning.
Also per the CDC, certain demographic subgroups are at higher risk. For example, American Indian and Alaska Native youth and middle-aged persons have the highest rate of suicide, followed by non-Hispanic White middle-aged and older adult males. African Americans have the lowest suicide rate, while Hispanics have the second lowest rate. The exception to this is younger children. African American children under the age of 12 have a higher rate of suicide than White children. While younger preteens and teens have a lower rate of suicide than older adolescents, there has been a significant rise in the suicide rate among youth ages 10 to 14. Suicide ranks as the second leading cause of death for this age group, accounting for 425 deaths per year and surpassing the death rate for traffic accidents, which is the most common cause of death for young people.
Looking for more data and statistics? For the most recent statistics on suicide and more information about risk, please visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/suicide/index.html.

Why do some people become suicidal while others with similar risk factors do not?

Most people who have the risk factors for suicide will not kill themselves. However, the risk for suicidal behavior is complex. Research suggests that people who attempt suicide may react to events, think, and make decisions differently than those who do not attempt suicide. These differences happen more often if a person also has a disorder such as depressionsubstance abuseanxietyborderline personality disorder, and psychosis. Risk factors are important to keep in mind; however, someone who has warning signs of suicide may be in more danger and require immediate attention.

What Are the Warning Signs of Suicide?

The behaviors listed below may be signs that someone is thinking about suicide.
  • Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves
  • Talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no reason to live
  • Planning or looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online, stockpiling pills, or newly acquiring potentially lethal items (e.g., firearms, ropes)
  • Talking about great guilt or shame
  • Talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions
  • Feeling unbearable pain, both physical or emotional
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Using alcohol or drugs more often
  • Acting anxious or agitated
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Changing eating and/or sleeping habits
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Taking risks that could lead to death, such as reckless driving
  • Talking or thinking about death often
  • Displaying extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy
  • Giving away important possessions
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family
  • Putting affairs in order, making a will

Do People Threaten Suicide to Get Attention?

Suicidal thoughts or actions are a sign of extreme distress and an alert that someone needs help. Any warning sign or symptom of suicide should not be ignored. All talk of suicide should be taken seriously and requires attention. Threatening to die by suicide is not a normal response to stress and should not be taken lightly.

If You Ask Someone About Suicide, Does It Put the Idea Into Their Head?

Asking someone about suicide is not harmful. There is a common myth that asking someone about suicide can put the idea into their head. This is not true. Several studies examining this concern have demonstrated that asking people about suicidal thoughts and behavior does not induce or increase such thoughts and experiences. In fact, asking someone directly, “Are you thinking of killing yourself,” can be the best way to identify someone at risk for suicide.

What Should I Do if I Am in Crisis or Someone I Know Is Considering Suicide?

If you or someone you know has warning signs or symptoms of suicide, particularly if there is a change in the behavior or a new behavior, get help as soon as possible.
Often, family and friends are the first to recognize the warning signs of suicide and can take the first step toward helping an at-risk individual find treatment with someone who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions. If someone is telling you that they are going to kill themselves, do not leave them alone. Do not promise anyone that you will keep their suicidal thoughts a secret. Make sure to tell a trusted friend or family member, or if you are a student, an adult with whom you feel comfortable. You can also contact the resources noted below.
How can doctors and other health care providers play a role in suicide prevention?
Health care providers can help prevent suicide when they understand the risk factors and use evidence-based treatments and therapies. In addition, The Joint Commission recommends screening all patients in all medical settings for suicide risk using validated, population and setting-specific tools.
Clinicians should be advised that it is no longer acceptable to “contract for safety” with patients. Safety planning for managing future suicidal thoughts and means restriction (removing or ensuring safe storage of potentially lethal items) have been proven to be effective ways of preventing suicide. Health care providers can find educational resources on the Zero Suicide website and news about the latest research on the NIMH website at www.nimh.nih.gov.

What if Someone Is Posting Suicidal Messages on Social Media?

Knowing how to get help for a friend posting suicidal messages on social media can save a life. Many social media sites have a process to report suicidal content and get help for the person posting the message. In addition, many of the social media sites use their analytic capabilities to identify and help report suicidal posts. Each offers different options on how to respond if you see concerning posts about suicide. For example:
  • Facebook Suicide Prevention webpage can be found at www.facebook.com/help/594991777257121/[use the search term “suicide” or “suicide prevention”].
  • Instagram uses automated tools in the app to provide resources, which can also be found online at https://help.instagram.com [use the search term, “suicide,” self-injury,” or “suicide prevention”]
  • Snapchat’s Support provides guidance at https://support.snapchat.com [use the search term, “suicide” or “suicide prevention”]  
  • Tumblr Counseling and Prevention Resources webpage can be found at https://tumblr.zendesk.com[use the search term “counseling” or “prevention,” then click on “Counseling and prevention resources”].
  • Twitter’s Best Practices in Dealing With Self-Harm and Suicide at https://support.twitter.com [use the search term “suicide,” “self-harm,” or “suicide prevention”].
  • YouTube’s Safety Center webpage can be found at https://support.google.com/youtube [use the search term “suicide and self injury”].
If you see messages or live streaming suicidal behavior on social media, call 911 or contact the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1–800–273–TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741) available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1–800–799–4889. All calls are confidential. This service is available to everyone. People—even strangers—have saved lives by being vigilant.

What Treatment Options and Therapies Are Available?

Effective suicide intervention practices are based on research findings and tested to see how various programs benefit various specific groups of people. For example, research has shown that borderline personality disorder is a risk factor for suicidal behavior, and there are programs that are effective in reducing suicide attempts.
Among its research on suicide, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has supported research on strategies that have worked well for those who have mental health conditions related to suicide such as depression and anxiety. These mainly include types of psychotherapies (such as cognitive behavior therapy or dialectical behavioral therapy). NIMH also conducts research on suicide risk screening tools for health care clinicians to use as a guide for screening patients for suicide risk.
For basic information about psychotherapies and medications, visit the NIMH website (www.nimh.nih.gov/health). For the most up-to-date information on medications, side effects, and warnings, visit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website.
Looking for a mental health provider in your area?
For general information on mental health and to locate treatment services in your area, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Treatment Referral Helpline at 1–800–662–HELP (4357). SAMHSA also has a Behavioral Health Treatment Locator on its website that can be searched by location.

Talking to Your Doctor

Suicide is often not discussed in medical visits where physical symptoms are more of the focus. If you have thoughts of suicide, tell your health care provider. Asking questions and providing information to your doctor or health care provider can improve your care. Talking with your doctor builds trust and leads to better results, quality, safety, and satisfaction. Visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website for tips at www.ahrq.gov/patients-consumers.
Source: NIMH